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Book says Payton became suicidal

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- According to a new book, Chicago Bears star Walter Payton abused painkillers in retirement and became suicidal.

In "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton," author Jeff Pearlman says the Hall of Fame running back used a cocktail of Tylenol and Vicodin in retirement, kept tanks of nitrous oxide in his garage and even obtained Ritalin from a friend whose son was prescribed pills. Pearlman writes that Payton drew the suspicion of pharmacists and a warning from the police after visiting several drugstores to have a dentist's prescription for morphine filled.

Payton's longtime agent Bud Holmes is quoted as saying "Walter was pounding his body with medication."

The book goes on sale Oct. 4. An excerpt appears in this week's Sports Illustrated.

Holmes' and Payton's executive assistant Ginny Quirk recall receiving suicidal calls at all hours during the mid-1990s, and Pearlman reports Payton was living apart from his wife Connie and having extramarital affairs after retirement. That created an awkward situation at his 1993 Hall of Fame induction, with Connie and his mistress attending.

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Around the league

*Former Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe and defensive back Troy Vincent are among the players who are first-time candidates for the 2012 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Keyshawn Johnson, Tiki Barber, Stephen Davis, Rod Smith, Will Shields and Mike Vanderjagt are also eligible, as are retired coaches Bill Cowher, Bill Parcells and Marty Schottenheimer.

*Former Buffalo Bills draft bust Aaron Maybin returned to the Jets. The linebacker was signed by the team in August and waived Sept. 4 after he made New York's initial 53-man roster.

*Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (bruised hand) practiced Wednesday and said there's a "100 percent" chance he starts when Philadelphia (1-2) hosts San Francisco (2-1) on Sunday.

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